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Defensive Linemen The Steelers Should Draft at #25 — The Bouillabaisse of A’Jarrandrew Robillingseed

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A’Shawn Robinson or Jarran Reed would look great wearing black & gold. Photo by John Bazemore/AP

As I have mentioned before, the Steelers need an additional defensive lineman, who can play nose tackle and also rotate at defensive end. Considering that the nose tackle was only on the field for 30% of the snaps, a player who can also be a part of the rotation at defensive end is critical. Cameron Heyward played 88% of the defensive snaps and Stephon Tuitt played 78% of the snaps. By season’s end, those two players were worn out, and in turn their play diminished, which affected the play of the entire defense. Moreover, when Heyward and/or Tuitt were given a breather, teams would readily move the ball on the Steelers. This can best be exemplified by Denver’s lone touchdown drive in last season’s playoff game.

There are a plethora of defensive linemen in this draft. So much so, that a “first round” type of player can be found in the second round. Ergo, one could say that it would be more logical to wait to draft a defensive lineman, such as Austin Johnson (Penn St.), Javon Hargrave (South Carolina St.), or Adolphus Washington (Ohio St.) at pick 58. That is very true, very logical. Then again, at pick 25, one could get a “top fifteen” player… which is what I would prefer, and thus, those are the players on whom I shall focus my attention.

There are quite a few defensive linemen who will go in the first round of this draft. Sheldon Rankins (Louisville) is the consensus top player, and I would gladly take him, but the odds are slim that he drops to 25. On the other end of the first-round spectrum, there is Vernon Butler (Louisiana Tech) and Kenny Clark (UCLA).  I like both of these players, but their value is probably somewhere around pick 31. Six spots may not seem like that big of a difference, but in draft terms dropping back that far would be equivalent to acquiring an extra fourth-round pick. So, while I like both of those players, they would be “reaches” at 25.

In short, there are three players who I feel would be legitimate choices for pick 25: A’Shawn Robinson (Alabama), Jarran Reed (Alabama), and Andrew Billing (Baylor).

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Andrew Billings would look great, as well. Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP

Andrew Billings, Baylor

Billings is the best nose tackle to come out of college since Dontarri Poe. He is powerful and disruptive, but also shows enough quickness to play defensive end (which, as we already discussed, is very important). The thing that stands out about him is that he was an offensive linemen prior to college… so, as good as he currently is, he is still learning the position. As in: Billings is already great and will only get better. Lastly, Mike Tomlin, Kevin Colbert, and Joe Greene (yes, you read that correctly, I said Joe Greene) ate dinner with Billings’ parents… which is… well, it is pretty darn telling as to what the Steelers think about this kid.

A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama

Robinson is a physical specimen. He is a big, strong run-stuffing nose tackle, who has enough pass-rushing skills to stay on the field during passing downs. I have watched some of his tapes and I have not seen him miss a tackle; simply, once he gets his hands on the opposing player, they go down. The more I watch of him, them more amazed I become. Lastly, Robinson has some experience playing defensive end; so, he seems like another perfect candidate. It should be noted that Robinson came to Heinz Field to visit with Tomlin, Colbert, and defensive-line coach, Johnny Mitchell.

Jarran Reed, Alabama

Reed played every position on the defensive line at Alabama. Since the Steelers are looking for a player who can play multiple positions, Reed would be the perfect choice… except he is not a very good pass-rusher. Yes, he lined up at defensive end, but only on first and second down. Still, Reed is used to lining up at various spots along the line; that is the type of position flexibility that the Steelers need. Reed is a similar player to Cam Heyward, although Reed is better against the run, while simultaneously being not nearly as good against the pass. As far as Pittsburgh’s interest goes, at Alabama’s pro day, when Reed ran his drills, Colbert was front & center, eyes glued on Reed.

In summation, at pick 25 I would be fine with any of the aforementioned defensive linemen: Rankins, Butler, Clark, Billings, Robinson, or Reed. But, I truly think that it comes down to one of those final three. I have done several mock drafts by myself, as well as a few with other Steelers fans, and almost always, one of those three guys is still there at 25. Sure, a shutdown cornerback would be nice, as would a hard-hitting safety, but ultimately the game of football is won by adding talented players to the trenches. Ergo, come next Thursday, that is exactly what I expect to come to fruition.

About Tiger Rowan (34 Articles)
Tiger is a Steelers contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh
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4 Comments on Defensive Linemen The Steelers Should Draft at #25 — The Bouillabaisse of A’Jarrandrew Robillingseed

  1. Jamie Barnhart // April 28, 2016 at 2:39 PM // Reply

    I couldn’t agree more with your entire thought process here, but I’m not sold yet that the Steelers are looking for a player like that. They very well could ignore the hybrid option and stick to strictly NT and DE. I could see them go SS, C, NT, DE, but I’m with you. I’d like to see DT/DE, SS, C.

    • Tiger Rowan // April 28, 2016 at 4:48 PM // Reply

      Javon Hargrave. He’s a NT with pass-rush moves.

      I hear you that they could go with a NT only (Reed) and a DE only (Ward). But, recent comments by Colbert lead me to believe that they’re looking for D-linemen who can fill multiple roles.

      • Jamie Barnhart // April 28, 2016 at 4:57 PM // Reply

        Sounds good to me. I just can’t see them relying on McCullers. He has leverage trouble. I wouldn’t want him on the field against a zone blocking run game, or any passing downs. Thankfully, this draft is so deep at DL, they have the luxury to solve the issue any number of ways. Enjoy this weekend!

        • Tiger Rowan // April 29, 2016 at 1:25 AM // Reply

          For Day Two:

          ILB Jack
          OLB Spence
          DT Hargrave
          DT Billings
          DT Robinson
          DT Reed
          DT Jones
          DT Johnson
          DE Bullard
          DE Day
          SS Cravens
          SS Thompson
          SS Bell
          OLB Correa
          OLB Calhoun
          OLB Dodd

          Enjoy your weekend.

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